Digital, a challenge or savior for the print -
Digital, a challenge or savior for the print
Posted 25 May 2020 04:37 PM


By: Sameer Bhasin
In the past, whenever there has been a crisis of a sort, it was a heyday for the publications. Newspapers emerged, flourished and grown during and after various times of crisis and the history is evidence to that. As it was popular during old days “Jab Tope Muquabilho, Akhbar nikalo !” (whenever faced with a cannon, bring out a newspaper!). And this simply means that newspaper, particularly the English print, was till today being seen as a ‘brahmaastra’ against all types of mess.

However, the powerful weapon or the ‘brahmaastra’ – ‘The Print Media’ has for it not so good days ahead as the medium, which otherwise also, was under a great threat from the electronic and latest, the digital. The present pandemic, which has already seen closure of so many print editions and facing challenges in physical circulation of the hard printed copies, is generally being considered to bring a blow to the print media. The lockdowns saw newspapers deliveries trickling almost to a stop and even those continuing to deliver, getting thinner in form because of the lack of advertising and in the backdrop of cut backs and downsizing of teams.
However, if the print continues to see the digital as its rival, the doom for the former is evident. It is, therefore, the high time that the traditional media embraces the new avatar and takes leverage on what the print has in itself embodied during its ages-old existence – the authenticity of the news and the permanency or the longevity of the impact of the written content; and embellishes the digital with these. While, this will save the ages old media houses from shutting down, the belief in digital content also gets strengthened.
A shift from old style newspapers towards digital interface would be the mantra for growth of media, post pandemic as well as in the current months. While, the oldest newspaper of Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmir Times has, though for the time being, closed down its print edition and continues to provide its readers with the news and other content through its news portal and e-paper; the most circulated Daily Excelsior has not shut but reduced the number of pages (for the time being) of its print and e-paper editions as the content on its portal remained unaffected.
Even though the ad revenue is likely to get further reduced, most likely for a longer duration, embracing digital becomes necessity for the traditional media as the corporate and other advertisers shift their preference from brand building to return oriented advertising in the backdrop of fall of revenue because of the lockdown and Covid crisis. Also, most of the dailies, particularly the smaller and the newer ones, appear to have packed their bags and gone home.
While free content over the internet could be seen as an attractive model, many dailies have already gone to the pay online model even as some continue to give news for free to retain the visitors. It is not only the number of stories being clicked and read online, but the time spent on a digital news platform is also becoming more important for attracting revenue.
(The author is a freelance journalist and media (PR) consultant)

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